It seems parents are just not held in the same "honor" as they were in times past. Look at an old episode of the Waltons, Leave it to Beaver, or Little House on the Prairie and compare the "honor" a parent received in the past with how a parent is treated today! You may be saying, "Yeah, but come on, those shows depicted the ways families should be!" Exactly! the fact remains, we have been instructed to "honor" our parents.
12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12 New Living Translation)
It is a command with a promise - one of those "meet this" and "get this" kind of deals! This is our fifth in a series of "rules" given to us - designed to keep us safe from pitfalls. In this "rule" of living, God reminds us of the importance of honoring our parents - giving them respect, esteeming their "skill" as a parent, and even overlooking their "lack of skill"!
The crux of the word "honor" really comes in the interpretation of this word as "revere". We are to revere our parents - not the same awe we give to God, idolizing them in some manner - but simply deeply being in respect of their position as the authority over our lives for our "growing up" days.
Some are probably thinking, "Yeah, but you have never met MY parents!" They may not be ideal, but they are our parents! Their "skill" as parents may not be great, but the fact remains, they ARE our parents! We are asked to honor them in recognition of their position, not always their "qualities" as our parents.
We may have a parent who struggles with life's dominating sins such as alcoholism, drug abuse, or simply any other form of self-defeating behavior we could imagine - even being an "absent" parent. Their "example" may not be one of holiness, but their position as our parent does not change. In fact, God still asks for us to honor them. He is not asking us to hold them up as perfect examples we should "model". He may only be asking us to not "turn on them" with unkind words, disrespectful attitudes, and anger.
In fact, the "job" of parenting in the natural sense does not come to those who are the best qualified! There is no "pre-test" to ensure only the best and most qualified get the position of "parent"! This being the case, we sometimes don't see the best examples of parents - folks who probably should never have brought a child into this world are doing it all the time! Does God expect their children to honor them? Yes! Not for their sinfulness, but for their "position" as parent.
We don't hold them up on a pedestal. We don't follow in their footsteps of sinfulness. We simply remember their position as "coverings" over our lives for a period of time. In some cases, the "covering" is a little flawed - filled with all kinds of holes! For those of you with this example of parent - pray for them! Don't become bitter toward them! Learn to turn their self-absorbed behaviors into a matter of prayer, not bitter rehearsal of their faults.
In honoring them, we are actually honoring God. In refusing to become bitter toward them, we are modeling the grace of God. In lifting them up before God we are actually respecting them as God asks. We refuse to give into our desire to abandon them to their own sin - instead, we take them repeatedly before the throne of grace, petitioning God to touch their hearts in some manner.
This is not the easiest of commandments - in fact, it may be the most difficult of them! Especially for those with parents who are abusive, anger-filled, manipulative, or given to some life-dominating sin. Yet, it comes with the blessing of God's protection over our lives!